Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2017


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 2, 2017

On October 2, 1789, President George Washington signed a resolution transmitting the (then-twelve) amendments constituting the Bill of Rights to the states that had ratified the Constitution. Click here for the letter from Washington to Governor Charles Pinckney of South Carolina that accompanied the amendments.

On October 2, 1835, Texans and Mexicans met in the first military battle of the Texas Revolution, the Battle of Gonzales.

In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. Over the next four years, the political situation in Mexico deteriorated, and in 1835 several states revolted. As the unrest spread, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales a weapon and requested the return of the cannon.

When the initial request was refused, Ugartechea sent 100 dragoons to retrieve the cannon. The soldiers neared Gonzales on September 29, but the colonists used a variety of excuses to keep them from the town, while secretly sending messengers to request assistance from nearby communities. Within two days, up to 140 Texians gathered in Gonzales, all determined not to give up the cannon. On October 1, settlers voted to initiate a fight. Mexican soldiers opened fire as Texians approached their camp in the early hours of October 2. After several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew.

Texas Cannon Flag 600

On October 2, 1879, Wallace Stevens was born. Stevens would become a renowned poet and insurance industry lawyer. My favorite poem of his is “Connoisseur of Chaos.”

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one.

President Woodrow Wilson suffered a stroke at the White House on October 2, 1909.

Thurgood Marshall was sworn-in as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 2, 1967.

Betty Talmadge, then wife of Senator Herman Talmadge, hosted a fundraiser with Rosalynn Carter and Joan Mondale on October 2, 1976.

Ground was broken for The Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on October 2, 1984.

The last Braves game at Turner Field was played on October 2, 2016, with the Detroit Tigers besting the Braves by 1-0.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Tonight, First Baptist Church of Woodstock will host Georgia Connects and a forum on the opioid crisis.

Cherokee County Opioid & Heroin Community Awareness Forum to be held this Monday evening October 2nd from 7:00 – 9:00 PM at First Baptist Church Woodstock.  Event is open to the public and children/teens are invited to attend.  This event will be very educational and informative.

In addition to our guest speakers, we will have an addiction recovery testimony and a skit to promote the Georgia 911 Amnesty Law.
Guest speakers:
>    Senator Renee Unterman – Senate Chair, Health & Human Services Committee (District 45 – Gwinnett County)
>    Nelly Miles – GBI Director Public Affairs
>    Judge Ellen McElyea – Superior Court Judge – Blue Ridge Judicial System and Cherokee County Felony Drug Court
>    Dr. Tim Simpson, MD – Emergency Medical Services Director for Northside Hospital – Cherokee
>    Dr. Susan Blank, MD – Atlanta Healing Center
First Baptist Church Woodstock
11905 Highway 92
Woodstock, GA  30188

Tom Price resigned as Secretary of Health and Human Services on Friday.

Price submitted a four-paragraph resignation letter in which he said he regretted “that the recent events have created a distraction” from the administration’s objectives. “Success on these issues is more important than any one person,” he continued.

Not long after, HHS staff received a message from Price praising employees as “dedicated, committed” and saying it had been “a great joy” to serve with them.

He closed: “Duty is Ours — Results are the Lord’s!”

But Trump had also directed some of his frustration at Price over the inability of Republicans in Congress to pass a health-care replacement bill. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia had pushed for the then-congressman to lead HHS, arguing that Price’s medical and policy expertise and congressional ties could help Trump deliver on his vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Several congressional Republicans praised Price on Friday: Ryan called him “a good man. He has spent his entire adult life fighting for others, first as a physician and then as a legislator and public servant. He was a leader in the House and a superb health secretary.”

From The New York Times:

The resignation of Tom Price as secretary late Friday over his use of costly chartered jets capped a week of setbacks on health care for a president who made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign and his first eight months in office. Mr. Trump’s decision on a successor could be an opportunity to shift the debate, but he faces the prospect of an arduous confirmation battle.

The president has sent mixed signals since the latest effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate. He asserted that he had the votes to pass the repeal legislation in early 2018, while offering to negotiate with Democrats who are adamantly against it. One adviser said on Saturday that Mr. Trump was serious about compromising with Democrats and would pick a secretary who would help make that happen.

Democrats urged him to pursue such a course. “Let’s get a new H.H.S. secretary who’s finally devoted to improving health care, move past these debates and come to bipartisan agreement on how to stabilize markets and make health care cheaper,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut.

The White House had no comment on Saturday, but two advisers who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters said two top candidates were Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Both have previously been vetted by the White House, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to their current jobs within recent months, a significant selling point.

Other names have been floated as well, including David Shulkin, the secretary of veterans affairs and a favorite of the president’s. But he has been criticized for a European trip with his wife that mixed business and sightseeing and was partially financed by taxpayers, and Mr. Trump may be reluctant to move him because he has been critical to fixing veterans’ care.

Federal funding for several components of healthcare expired last week.

Meanwhile in Georgia, a clinic network funded by regular federal grants halted replacement of badly needed dental chairs and stopped work on a planned contract to recruit a pediatrician.

A Houston County couple watched their health insurance crumble. The Georgia commissioner of community health drew up contingency plans.

All of that is happening here now because Congress — absorbed over the past few months in undoing the Affordable Care Act — has not approved funding for other long-standing, bipartisan health care programs that affect millions of patients and faced Sept. 30 expiration or crucial deadlines.

• Community Health Center subsidies such as Miracle’s fund 35 centers in Georgia with about $86 million a year, perhaps 70 percent of which was cut. Nationally, the program is facing a $3.6 billion cut, and that cut will be distributed among the states.

• Subsidies for rural hospitals, called “rural extenders,” have expired to the tune of at least $11.7 million in this state this coming year. The small facilities say that represents a large portion of their bottom lines.

• Subsidies for hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of indigent patients, such as Grady Memorial Hospital, are cut by $49 million in Georgia for the coming year. The figure depends on changing variables but is to expand to approximately $149 million by 2025.

• Subsidies for working-class kids, called the Children’s Health Insurance Program nationally and PeachCare in Georgia, face cuts of $427 million in Georgia this year.

• In addition, some companies offering policies on the Obamacare exchange market said they raised rates and pulled back coverage because of uncertainty about federal subsidies for lower-income customers.

“It’s a real concern,” [Georgia Commissioner of Community Health Frank Berry] added. “If we lose potentially millions — hundreds of millions — of dollars of federal funds, it will have an impact on Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, said the governor “is confident that Congress will meet its obligations and reauthorize the CHIP program and not place hundreds of thousands of Georgians in jeopardy.” He did not address the other lapsed programs.

Some, but not all, of the federal programs are expected to be taken up starting in a U.S. House hearing in the coming week.

Hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of the poor are particularly concerned. They benefit from a federal program called DSH, or Disproportionate Share Hospital grants. A long-planned funding cut is scheduled to go into place Sunday, and there’s been no mention on Capitol Hill about staving off the cuts as they have three times before.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia said he was working to attach DSH money onto other legislation moving through the Senate so that “it doesn’t hurt our hospitals.”

Meanwhile, more than 220 members of the House — representing more than half the chamber — wrote Thursday to leaders of both parties urging that the House act swiftly to delay the DSH cuts for at least two years or until a more permanent solution can be found.

On the state level, the Legislature might be able to replace some of the federal money, but at great cost, Unterman said.

“The fiscal part of it has huge implications,” she said. “Because then it bleeds over literally into education. The money is going to come from somewhere. Do you take it from public safety? Do you take it from roads? Do you take it from natural resources? Health care is a priority.”

Unterman asks one thing of Washington: “To have a plan of action.”

“To be definitive,” she said. “We’re either going to help you, or we’re not going to help you. The ambiguity is devastating.”

The AJC piece by Ariel Hart and Tamar Hallerman is must-read if you’re interested in health policy.

The United States Department of Energy announced it approved an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear reactor construction at Plant Vogtle.

The commitments include $1.67 billion to Atlanta-based Georgia Power, which owns almost half of the plant; $1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power and $415 million to subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, the project’s other two large partners. A sliver is also owned by the city of Dalton.

“Advanced nuclear energy projects like Vogtle are the kind of important energy infrastructure projects that support a reliable and resilient grid, promote economic growth, and strengthen our energy and national security,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

In a statement, Georgia Power hailed the move as welcome support for the Vogtle expansion that will provide $500 million in “present-value benefits to its customers” through savings on debt costs for the project.

“The (Trump) administration, Secretary Rick Perry, the entire cabinet and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been exceedingly helpful with the construction of the Vogtle 3 and 4 project,” said Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers.

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he is “doing whatever I can to ensure that the Plant Vogtle project stays on track for completion.” That includes pushing for an extension of a separate tax credit for the project, he said, that is expected to otherwise expire before the plant in completed, because of new project delays.

The new guarantees are in addition to $8.3 billion in earlier Energy Department loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle, including $3.46 billion for Georgia Power.

Governor Nathan Deal announced last week that the number of Georgians receiving GEDs increased to 10, 128 from the previous year’s 9,842.

“An educated workforce provides a strong foundation for a prosperous economy, and we are dedicated to providing Georgia citizens with high-quality educational options,” said Deal. “A GED diploma opens doors to a brighter future and greater opportunities, and I applaud these graduates for embracing those opportunities. The graduates this year have each accomplished a praiseworthy feat and are now better equipped for Georgia’s workforce as a result of their hard work.”

United States Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke to First Congregational Church of Atlanta yesterday.

California Sen. Kamala Harris told a Georgia congregation founded by former freed slaves that the United States remains wracked by racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination that flout the nation’s core values.

But the rising Democratic Party star added that Americans aren’t as split as “forces of hate and division” suggest. “I believe it is time we replace the divide-and-conquer,” she said from the pulpit of First Congregational Church in downtown Atlanta, adding that national unity comes from citizens’ recognizing their share priorities while still honoring diversity.

From the pulpit, Harris criticized “the attorney general,” without naming Sessions, for renewing the push for harsher sentences in nonviolent drug crimes and for rolling back some of policing overhauls from the Obama administration.

Her calendar is noticeably devoid of visits to the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But she’s also met in recent months with key Democratic donors and hired aides who worked for 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

And her path to the Democratic nomination would certainly run through voters like those she addressed Sunday in Atlanta. Obama in 2008 and Clinton in 2016 each lost the cumulative white vote in Democratic primary states, according to exit polls, but both of the eventual nominees won black voters overwhelmingly, propelling them to key victories in Southern states that gave them early delegate leads they never relinquished.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) spoke on behalf of Vincent Fort’s campaign for Mayor of Atlanta.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders lent Atlanta mayoral hopeful Vincent Fort some of his star power Saturday in a rousing rally that was part sermon for “the 99 percent” and part call to arms to fight back against Washington.

Enthusiasitc Sanders fans — many of them white millennials — crowded into the sanctuary of Saint Philip AME Church to hear the man for whom they packed arenas and outdoor stadiums during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2016.

The throng, more than 2,400 in number, gave Sanders — Hillary Clinton’s rival for last year’s Democratic presidential nomination — and special guest, Atlanta rapper Killer Mike, the rock star treatment with screams and defeaning applause that shook the rafters as the duo entered the room with Fort.

“What this campaign is about is not just electing a progressive mayor,” Sanders said. “This campaign is about bringing forward a political revolution that revitalizes democracy and gives the people the hope and the belief that in this democracy we can have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

“Vincent, when the Democrats regain control of the Senate, I’m going to invite you as the mayor of this great city to testify why the people of Atlanta need a Medicare for all, single-payer system,” he said.

The Muscogee County Jail kitchen has been closed due to needed repairs.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley sounded the alarm on behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office at a recent Columbus Council meeting. He requested approval for authorizing the spending of Other Local Option Sales Tax dollars to bring in a mobile kitchen from California while the floor is being repaired.

“The tile floor in the kitchen at the Muscogee County Jail is both a safety hazard and in violation of health codes,” according to information provided by the city. “The floor is cracked/chipped, missing grout, and has areas of pooling with standing water and continues to deteriorate. The Sheriff’s Office is working with the Engineering Department to remove the existing floor and install new floor drains along with the new flooring system.”

“If an AC goes out in the Government Center building, and we have to order a part out of Atlanta, we might be able to wait until tomorrow,” [Hugley] said. “But if it goes out in the jail we have to drive to Atlanta and get it tonight because of their protection and their rights. So it has to be done right.”

Councilor Thomas asked why the funding was coming out of the public safety OLOST contingency fund instead of funds designated for infrastructure.

“The bottom line is while it’s a public building, it’s a public safety facility, and it makes sense to use public safety OLOST to fund this need for public safety,” said Hugley.

“I don’t have a problem using OLOST money for this purpose,” Thomas said. “I’m just questioning because it is construction, if you will, and why would it not be coming out of the infrastructure side? I don’t want us to get into the habit of just whoever happens to have money, we’ll take it.”

Savannah City Council approved a resolution asking the General Assembly to rename the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

While proposing the resolution, Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he wants the city to be united and on the right side of history.

“We will drive over the iconic bridge that leads to our city that will no longer be named for a man that divided us, but for the city that we are all proud to call our home,” DeLoach said.

As part of the resolution, the council recommended the bridge be named “The Savannah Bridge,” a name Alderman Brian Foster said the business community had advocated for when the current bridge across the Savannah River replaced an older one in 1991.

“We are an international city,” Foster said. “Let’s use this opportunity to promote our city, our state, and our Georgia Ports Authority by naming the bridge the Savannah Bridge.”

The resolution will now be sent to Georgia’s lawmakers, who will have the final say over whether the state bridge’s name is changed. A bid by the previous council to get the state legislature to change the name failed to get the support of enough state lawmakers to pass.

Tom Barton of the Savannah Morning News writes about Georgia’s Air National Guard 165th Airlift Wing, currently serving relief missions to Puerto Rico.

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